CONCACAF Champions League winners Monterrey were disappointed to stumble in the quarterfinals of the Club World Cup — thereby missing out on a chance to face South American champions Santos. But they earned some solace on Wednesday when they beat African champions Esperance Sportive de Tunis, 3-2, to earn 5th place.
Monterrey got first half goals from Hiram Meir and Aldo de Nigris, and a second-half strike from Jesus Zavala which proved the winner.
Esperance actually took the lead in the 31st minute when Yannick Ndjeng got behind the Monterrey defense and lashed home a shot from about 18 yards. The Tunisians made it interesting after Khaled Mouelhi converted a penalty in the 76th minute, but they were unable to nab the equalizer.
By finishing in 5th, Monterrey, who beat Real Salt Lake in the CCL final in April, equaled Pachuca’s performance at the CWC last year. The two years before that, the CONCACAF champions
Since the establishment of the current CWC format in 2005, four CONCACAF teams have reached the semifinals, at which point they each fell. In 2005, Costa Rican side Saprissa — led by current RSL striker Alvaro Saborio — lost to Liverpool in the semis and went on to win the consolation match, finishing in 3rd place. It remains the highest ever final position for a CONCACAF club at the CWC.
The 2011-2012 CONCACAF Champions League knockout stage will get under way in March. MLS champions LA Galaxy face Toronto FC, and the Seattle Sounders take on Mexican side Santos Laguna.